First Biorefinery Demonstration Facility
The Iowa Power Fund Board has approved a $3.9 million grant to help transform a Newton, Iowa, biodiesel facility into an integrated biorefinery, producing specialty chemicals and jet fuel from renewable oils and fats.
The project—a collaboration between Renewable Energy Group (REG), Elevance Renewable Sciences and Technochem—is based on Elevance's olefin meta-thesis technology for the conversion of soybean oil, inedible corn oil, animal fats and other raw materials. The process won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2005.
The plant will evaluate a variety of renewable feedstocks, produce products for market development and develop data that can be applied in the design of a commercial-scale unit.
"This novel biorefinery technology opens a significant portion of the $500 billion specialty chemical industry previously not accessible to soybeans,” says Delbert Christensen, president of the Iowa Soybean Association. Iowa Cattlemen's Association board member Bill Couser says, "We appreciate the continued support of the Iowa Power Fund [for] projects like this biorefinery that continue to add value to the livestock industry.”
Ethanol Share to Rise by 2035
Ethanol will account for 17% of U.S. gasoline consumption by 2035, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). In addition, the U.S. will rely more on solar, wind and other renewable sources to meet energy needs.
"Our projections show existing policies that stress energy efficiency and alternative fuels, together with higher energy prices, curb energy consumption growth and shift the energy mix toward renewable fuels,” says EIA administrator Richard Newell. The price of crude oil is forecast to rise to about $133 per barrel, in 2008 dollars, by 2035.
EIA says that U.S. energy consumption is expected to increase 14% by 2035, but the U.S. will rely less on oil and other fossil fuels. The forecast assumes no change in climate change regulations. However, the U.S. is expected to adopt policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which should increase the demand for alternative energy sources.
Iowa Governor Heads Biofuels Group
Iowa Governor Chet Culver was recently named chairman of the National Governors' Biofuels Coalition. He was previously vice chair of the 36-member group.
The coalition has urged Washington to focus on biofuels market development and sustainability. President Barack Obama recently cited the coalition as a significant factor in his "Biofuels Directive,” which is aimed at expanding the production and use of biofuels in the U.S.
The administration's Biofuels Interagency Working Group will work closely with the coalition to ensure that the expansion of biofuels production remains environmentally and economically sustainable in the years ahead.
Culver currently serves as the federal liaison for the Democratic Governors Association, as well.
- Mid-February 2010